With the deluge of 2018 shedding light on the endless possibilities of open street mapping (OSM) and its benefits, a community meet-up of volunteers and others associated with OSM-Kerala was held here on Sunday.
France-based open street map maker Florian Lainez, who founded ‘Jungle Bus’ four years ago, was the chief guest. “I have been into open-street mapping for the past nine years – mapping landmarks while walking, while on holidays, or during routine travel, using my smartphone, be it in France or outside. Such open street mapping initiatives are of immense help to the public at large, be it for commuting or as a help in times of emergency,” he said.
The response of the public and government agencies to OSM changed post the 2018 deluge, furthering the cause of map literacy, said Manoj Karingamadathil, coordinator of the meeting. “They came to understand the benefits of the availability of such an open platform. Still, many agencies which have mapped their areas of activity are reluctant to share them with other agencies, often citing policy issues,” he said.
A panchayat-level resource mapping was done recently in select local bodies to help collate and analyse data.
A masters-degree holder in geo-spatial engineering, Arjun Gangadharan cited the initial hassles that volunteers faced while tracking bus routes and stops, since many buses were not operating on the basis of available data. “Then there are problems like the data available with one department not matching with that of the other. This means we have data, which is often of little use. The availability of open data will help frequent update of data as well,” he said.
The meeting was co-organised by Open Data Kerala (ODK), Swathanthra Malayalam Computing (SMC), Map Kerala Initiative, Geominds and Jungle Bus.